Fresh Baked Goods . . . Oh My!

With the selections made, milk was a righteous choice. Neither bar was too sweet.

3 chess pie bars on white styrofoam trayWe happened to trip across an opportunity at the Valero gas station in Emory, TX. After fueling the truck we went inside. On the way inside we saw a Mennonite woman selling fresh baked goods on 2 tables. We did a quick look see.

In anticipation of purchasing treats, we bought some whole milk from the quick mart part of the gas station. Gotta have milk, right? My husband definitely thinks so.

With the selections made, milk was a righteous choice. We selected coconut pecan bars and chess bars. Oh my! Neither bar was too sweet. The coconut pecan bars had the right balance of nuts to coconut. The chess bars reminded us of chess pie, only better.3 coconut pecan bars on white styrofoam plate

Would we pick out more goodies at this location in future when driving through? Most definitely! I do have a new mission though—to find a chess bar recipe.

Recently, I picked up a 1938 cookbook entitled, “100 Southern Recipes.” I’ll be sharing more about the antique haunt I found it at and some recipes. This Chess Pie recipe is from this cookbook. I haven’t had meringue on a chess pie before, but this recipe looks interesting. Soon, I’ll share Colonel Sanders’ chess pie recipe and it is fabulous! It is also much simpler to make than this recipe appears.

What delectable treats have you tripped across and wanted a recipe for?

Amazing Mushroom Appetizer

I still remember the surprisingly good mushroom taste when a friend fixed these at rendezvous. Serve them with your favorite dips, dressings, and sauces.

Plate of fried mock mushrooms with box of crackers in background Want a super easy, 3 ingredient appetizer that’s delicious? These mock mushrooms deliver!

The first time I ate these, our friend Slim Skinner fixed ‘em up in his tipi at rendezvous. I still remember the surprisingly good mushroom taste and that was years ago. Of course, I asked for the recipe which he shared. It is only 3 ingredients and easy to remember.Egg carton with cream of mushroom soup can and pound package of butter on it and a box of crackers behind it

Mock Mushrooms

  • 1 can condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 sleeve of saltine crackers
  • 1 egg
  • Butter for frying

Note: Use the regular saltine crackers. We tried  the whole wheat crackers and the whole wheat taste overpowered the mushroom flavor.

  1. Crush the saltines in the sleeve and then dump them in a bowl. Hand crush a bit more if needed. You want a mix of fine and small crumbs.Mixing bowl with crushed saltine cracker crumbs and one raw egg stirred in, and condensed cream of mushrooms soup sitting on top of crumbs. A teaspoon is also in the bowl.
  2. Add your egg to the cracker crumbs and stir in a bit.
  3. Add the condensed soup right out of the can to the cracker and egg mixture. Stir until gloppy.
  4. Melt butter in a skillet. Heat the butter a bit more. Use your fingers and the spoon to shape one scant teaspoon of batter into a blob to drop in the pan. Test fry one mushroom. When the butter is bubbling, add more blobs.
  5. Fry until brown on all sides. Remove “mushrooms” to a paper towel lined bowl. Add more butter to the skillet during cooking as needed.stirred up mock mushroom batter in bowl with teaspoon

When frying, use a long handled utensil to move the mushrooms around to minimize getting burned by popping grease. You could also use  a deeper pan to fry in. This recipe makes 40 pieces using a scant teaspoon measure for the mushrooms.mock mushrooms frying in skillet with butter

Serve up your mock mushrooms as an appetizer, side dish, or snack. You can serve them with your favorite dips, dressings, and sauces or just enjoy them plain.

Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware

There is a much easier way to season cast iron that doesn’t go rancid or get a greasy build up on the iron.

When I was a kid we cooked a bunch with cast iron. I remember my folks saying never wash with soap. Top of Griswold Dutch oven lid No 8, Tite-Top BasterThey also would heat the oven up and rub olive oil or lard on the cast iron, then bake it in the oven to season the iron.

Well, there is a much easier way.

Secure a chunk of pure beeswax. Anything as long as it is pure and no paraffin. If you have a rusted up piece of cookware, take a wire brush to it and clean it off. You can also plop it is a campfire and burn the rust off. Just make sure you let it cool slowly so it does not crack.


Place your clean cast iron on a stove top burner. Turn the heat to low and start warming up the iron. As the iron heats up, the pores in the metal open up. Once it is warm enough to melt beeswax on contact, rub the iron inside and out with the beeswax.  You may wish to use a pair of leather gloves to minimize burning your self. You can also use a folded paper towel to rub the wax around. Let the cast iron cool.


You now have a super seasoned piece of cast iron. The seasoning will not go rancid as others do. It will not build up as is common. While I may wash it using soap, if I do, reseasoning is so easy.


Blacksmiths often use beeswax to finish iron. I can take a piece of iron finished in this way and leave it outside. It will often have no rust even after a year. Beeswax is a fat. There have been times when we are at reenactments and have needed fat to fry. We just cut off a piece of beeswax candle and have at it. You don’t have to worry about spilling oils.


When cleaning cast iron, I usually use hot to boiling water and no soap. Always dry off your cast iron. I do this by putting it on the heat for a bit, take it off the heat, and rub dry with a towel. Be careful not to burn yourself. It is good to use an old towel as some black may transfer from the iron to the towel. Once dry, I will heat it back up and rub the inside with beeswax. Remember, it does not build up. I keep a tightly folded paper towel that has had much use with beeswax to do this.


By Pete Avery

Brisket – the Northern Way

It had been about an hour since the brisket was placed on the stove when the smell of the maple and Greek seasonings started filling the cabin. After a couple of hours you may need to add liquid to the Dutch. We always have a pot of tea on the stove so I just pour a little in the Dutch. That’s called “Guy” cooking.

Cooked, sliced brisket on cutting boardGrowing up in rural Wisconsin, my folks did a bunch of cooking using a cast iron DUTCH OVEN. Food was cooked using the Dutch oven both in the oven as well as on top of the stove. When cooking on the stove top, one must put a cast iron trivet inside the Dutch. This was the original slow cooker.

The Dutch w/ trivet I use is Griswold Cast Iron. While Griswolds are no longer made, many antique stores carry them. They may also be found on eBay. Top of Griswold Dutch oven lid No 8, Tite-Top BasterIf unable to locate a Griswold, one can find the Wagner brand in the same locations. My cast iron is well seasoned. I will cover iron cookware seasoning in a separate discussion.

Our IGA in Grand Marais, MN has some great deals in the almost expired bin (also called the “dead meat bin”). When we hit the store, we check the dead meat bin for deals. A couple of days ago we found a nice chunk of brisket. We also found some Greek salad dressing in a sale cart.

We went home and I marinated the brisket in Greek salad dressing. To marinade the meat I put dressing both in the bottom of the container and on top of the meat. It was stored covered in the fridge for a couple of days.

Brisket Day arrived and 1/2 cup of maple whisky was put in the Dutch. The alcohol tenderizes the meat. Pure maple syrup can be used instead. The chunk of meat was placed on the trivet inside the Dutch with the whiskey. Place the meat fat side up so the moisture is maintained. Brisket on trivet inside dutch oven with Greek dressing on top of it and maple whiskey in the bottom of the DutchExtra Greek dressing was then poured over the meat. The container was rinsed with about 1/2 cup of water which was also poured into the Dutch. Nothing goes to waste.

The covered Dutch oven was placed on the wood stove running about a low medium heat. If using a gas or electric stove top, a low medium heat will work. Experiment with your stove. If using an oven, bake on 350 degrees. After a couple of hours you may need to add liquid to the Dutch. We always have a pot of tea on the stove so I just pour a little in the Dutch. That’s called “Guy” cooking.Brisket on trivet inside dutch oven with Greek dressing on top of it and maple whiskey in the bottom of the Dutch sitting on top of wood stove

As I began to write this, it had been about an hour since the brisket was placed on the stove when the smell of the maple and Greek seasonings started filling the cabin. As I looked out the window, the snow was coming down nice and heavy. What a wonderful environment for relaxing.

By Pete Avery

Note:  While it shows Cindy as the author it is really Pete, her husband.  It is still on Cindy’s list to figure out how to have guest author’s post.Brisket, green beans with onions, mashed potatoes and gravy on plateCooked brisket whole on plate

Cheese Curd Croissant Creation

We used a Dutch oven on top of a wood stove to bake this creation. This can be done in an oven or with a Dutch with coals from your campfire. Have fun making this dough creation with your own twists.

2 cheese curd croissants a metal pan sitting on a cutting boardDo you love bread and cheese? How about hot croissant with melted cheese curds inside? It is both easy and yummy to make a Cheese Curd Croissant Creation! Also, it is just the thing to go with a hot drink on a cold day.


– 1 tube of Pillsbury croissant dough
– Cheese curds that have lost their squeak


1. Crack open your tube of croissant dough. Take 2 pieces of the dough, keep them both flat and join 2 edges together by putting them edge to edge and pressing them together. If you have trouble with the edges not sticking together, use a bit of water on your finger tips as you press the two dough edges together. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough a bit.

croissant dough on cutting board with cheese curds on 1/2 of dough and rolling pin off to the side

2. Add cheese curds that have lost their squeak to the center of the dough. Note: If your curds still squeak, enjoy eating them fresh!

3. Join the edges of your dough so you can create a sealed pocket or turnover. You want to seal the cheese inside the dough. part of hands folding over half of croissant dough and the cheese curds will be sealed dough pocketAnother way to do this is to put a piece of croissant dough on a flat surface, add the cheese, then put another dough piece on top of that. Seal all the edges by pinching them together.

Two cheese curd croissants in metal pan with Mullins Cheese curd bag in background.4. Bake your cheesy pockets till golden brown. We used a Dutch oven on top of a wood stove. Dutch oven on top of wood stoveThis can be done in an oven as well. Also, a Dutch oven could be used with coals from your campfire.


Chees Curd Croissants in pan inside dutch oven on top of wood stove. Croissants are golden brown.5. Prepare your beverage of choice to enjoy with your Cheese Curd Croissant Creation. Be sure to let the croissants cool a bit before eating as the cheese inside will be very hot and getting a burned tongue is not fun.

Other Pointers:

You can substitute any cheese you wish for the cheese curds. Try out combining flavors of cheeses. Consider adding a bit of spaghetti sauce and pepperoni with the cheese to fashion a pizza pocket.

Another idea would be to try canned biscuit dough which comes in a variety of flavors!

Have fun making this dough creation with your own twists. I’d love to hear what you tried. Feel free to share in the comments section.

Get Creative with Ingredients in Your Cupboard

We made a meal with oddball cupboard items using our wood stove, dutch oven and microwave. Breakfast for supper is great any time! See how we did it to get ideas for your unused food items.

Do you have those oddball food items in your pantry, cupboard or kitchen that you just never get around to using? Biscuit dough rolled on on cutting board with rolling pin Yup, we do too. Keep reading to see what items we had and how we used them. The goal is to spark ideas, encourage you to be creative and to jump in and have some fun!

Our oddball items were: one packet of milk pepper gravy mix, gluten free flour, and rye flour. The gravy mix was the driving force in deciding what was on the menu—biscuits and gravy. What goes great with biscuits and gravy? Eggs of course. Breakfast for supper became the goal!

My husband altered a favorite biscuit recipe that I had previously made. Since we didn’t have buttermilk, he substituted sour cream and mixed it with the milk. Your probably thinking, “yuck,” but we cook with a lot of powdered, dried, and freeze dried ingredients. He simply mixed Thrive Life powdered milk, Thrive Life powdered sour cream, and water in our Ninja blender for the liquid in the biscuits. It was an easy substitute. Here is Pete’s Biscuit Recipe:

About 1 1/2 c rye flour
About 1 1/2 c gluten-free flour
1/4 c maple syrup
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
About 3/4 c butter, melted
About 1/2 c milk & sour cream mixture

Note that he “Guy” cooks with ingredients being measured in “about” quantities. You’ll feel like your on an adventure if you’ve never cooked like this!

Mix all the biscuit ingredients, roll out on a flat surface to desired thickness, and cut in desired shape. He used a mason jar cause it was round and handy.Mason jar being used to cut biscuit dough into circles on cutting board Do be aware that baking with gluten free flour is very different than gluten flour. You get different textures and may need different liquid amounts than you normally use in a recipe—remember the adventure! This recipe has 50% gluten and 50% gluten-free flours in it. Put the biscuits in a buttered pan.

Bake the biscuits at 350 degrees till done. Pete used a Dutch Oven on top of our wood stove because we don’t have an oven at our cabin. He checked the biscuits about every 15 minutes until they were done. It took about an hour on medium heat to bake them.Four biscuits in terra cotta pan sitting on cutting board with rolling pin next to it

Using the wood stove to cook or bake is taking advantage of “free” energy since we are already using it to heat the cabin. You could say we are upcycling the radiant heat to efficiently cook our food. Also, there was leftover biscuit dough that will be refrigerated and used another time. We’ll decide how many biscuits to bake and roll the dough to cut out that many to bake for a meal till the dough is gone.

Wood stove top with pan of gravy and Dutch oven with biscuits on it.

The gravy was easy. Just follow the directions on the package and make it. Again, he used powdered milk. Another reason to cook with powdered milk is you make it as you need it. The milk isn’t taking up refrigerator space or spoiling. He also added Thrive Life pre-cooked, seasoned ground beef for a meat in the gravy. We were out of the Thrive Life sausage crumbles. Both are delicious.

Scrambled eggs just go with biscuit & gravy! Again, we used Thrive Life freeze dried foods. Their scrambled egg mix is delicious—and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve eaten some pretty nasty dried eggs before. These are fabulous. I get to take credit for cooking the eggs. Since the stove stop space was all taken, I tried cooking them in the microwave for the first time. It worked great. Pete mixed the freeze dried eggs with water and added freeze dried mushrooms and onions. Here are a couple of pictures during the microwaving process:

Partially microwaved scrambled eggs in a dish

Cooking times and power settings were:
1 minute on power 4
2 minutes on power 5
Use a spoon to break up cooked eggs into chunks
1 1/2 minutes on power 5
Again, break up the eggs into chunksMicrowaved scrambled eggs in a dish

We waited to complete the eggs till the biscuits were done. We then nuked the eggs for 30 seconds on power 5. They turned out great! If you try this, please note that you may need additional 1 or 2 minutes cook times on a low power setting. It is better to undercook the eggs because you can always cook them a tad longer to get them where you want them.

Biscuit with jelly and gravy on top along with scrambled eggs on a plateBiscuits & gravy aren’t complete without jelly! Top the biscuits with jelly, add gravy and eggs, say grace, and enjoy.

The biscuits had a good flavor but were very crumbly due to the gluten-free flour. They did carry the maple flavor from the maple syrup.

What ingredients do you have sitting in your cupboard waiting to be used? Take a peek and get creative. Feel free to share what you made in the comments section.

And now for the shameless plug—Pete and I are consultants for Thrive Life freeze dried foods because it fits our lifestyle and the foods taste great. Feel free to check it out at our website, Also, feel free to contact me with questions you may have about Thrive Life and using freeze dried foods.

Start Your Freezer Soup Pot Today

Since this homemade soup is a unique culinary creation, savor the flavor before its gone.

Do you want to make a tasty soup that your family will love and your friends will rave about? This has worked for my husband and I for years! He learned this technique from his parents. Just follow these easy steps.

1. Designate a freezer container to be your Freezer Soup Pot (FSP for short).

2. Put any meat or vegetable leftovers in your FSP container in the freezer. This includes liquids you would normally strain down your kitchen sink when you open a can of vegetables, leftover mashed potatoes, any leftover vegetables, leftover meats or meat juices, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, and pizza sauce. Use your judgment as to whether you think it would compliment a pot of soup. Each time you have such leftovers, just add a layer to your FSP and keep it in the freezer. The FSP will be your soup base.

3. When the FSP container is full, make a pot of soup. Put your FSP in a pan or crockpot. Once it has thawed add other vegetables if you want such as tomatoes, onions, and peppers. You can get creative and add other ingredients such as macaroni or quinoa. Before adding spices, I recommend you get the FSP boiling so the flavors can blend. After taste testing a bit of cooled soup broth, add any spices you desire. Decide how thick or thin you want your soup. You can turn it into a stew if you want. When all your vegetables are tender and the soup has boiled down to the consistency you want, get ready to enjoy the best tasting soup ever.

Benefits of using a FSP are that you are upcycling food you would normally throw away if you’re not into leftovers. This saves you money. You also have the opportunity to enjoy and share soups you create.

Since this homemade soup is a unique culinary creation, savor the flavor before its gone. No two batches are the same. Be sure to start another FSP for your next pot of soup. What is your must have ingredient in a pot of soup? Feel free to use the comments section to share.

Special Holiday Go To Dessert

This is a rich yet easy to make dessert that will become a regular for your special occasions.

Have you ever had a potluck or gathering for which you wanted “just the right” recipe?

A bourbon cake dessert served by a dear friend met my recipe need. An email reply later I had the recipe and was gearing up to make “Julia’s Date Pudding.” Be sure to continue reading – this desert is worth it! While it is billed as a pudding, it is more like a very moist bar.

Julia’s Date Pudding recipe

I have two warnings about this recipe. One: read the whole recipe through. It is easy to make but it takes time to let the dessert cool in the oven. Two: the recipe serves more than 12. This is a very rich dessert, and a 2 x 2” piece will satisfy the most ravenous sweet tooth. They can always have seconds, but you won’t want to waste any of this dessert.

Baked cake in pan on stovetopThis is a picture of the cake after we poured the sauce on it and you can see the “gloss” look it has. The sauce has soaked in quite a bit in the second picture.Baked cake in pan on stovetop

Modifications we made include: substituting apricots for dates. We used a 12 ounce package. Using Fireball Whiskey instead of Bourbon. Note: one and a half ounces equals one jigger. We ended up using four ounces of Fireball. We used a total of 1 1/4 pecans but next time plan to use 1 1/2 cups total.

Christmas, New Year’s, or Fourth of July would be occasions to serve this treat. You’ll have to decide whether you like it best hot or cold. Feel free to share your thoughts through the comments posting.

A special thank you goes out to Marilyn, a true Kentucky Southern hostess, for sharing this dessert with me at her table and in writing.

Need other holiday recipe ideas? Check out these posts:

Easy Deviled Egg Directions with Tips and Secrets for Success.

Quick ‘n Easy Pickled Deviled Eggs

Previously Promised Recipe found in Vintage Cookbook

When you look at this recipe, you might think it will make a small batch. Beware, a double batch was a lot of soup! This is an easy, creamy soup that you can tweak for your tastes.

Here is a new recipe for you from a vintage cookbook as previously promised.  I found this while waiting for our breakfast at Dumas Walker Pepper & Pie Co. in Brenham, TX. This soup sounded easy and I love avocados. You can check out my blog on Dumas Walker’s, and remember to schedule a visit when you are in that neck of the woods. It is worth it!

Ole SA Cookbook cover

I changed the recipe up a bit to suit my tastes and what I had on hand.  I scooped out and rehydrated my Thrive Life freeze dried veggies.  I used mushrooms, onions, and celery that I microwaved and let cool before adding to my mixture. Next, I blended the avocado, cream, lime juice (from the plastic lime), cilantro, and of course my veggies.

Since I didn’t have chicken broth on hand this was a vegetarian version using water for liquid. No salt on hand either so I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

When you look at this recipe, you might think it will make a small batch and double it like I did.  Beware, a double batch was a lot of soup!

Avocado soup recipe

Take-aways from this trial run: use less cream, have salt and pepper on hand, and experiment to spice it up.

I loved the texture and creaminess of the soup, but again I love avocados. This easy, cold soup could easily become a staple in my recipe repertoire once I get the spicing down. Any suggestions?

My husband would rather have this soup hot. You can try it both ways and decide. Hot or cold?

picture of avocado soup in pottery bowl with spoon

Remember, I will be sharing more vintage cookbook recipes with you.

Quick ‘n Easy Pickled Deviled Eggs

Need a quick fix for your next family reunion, picnic, or barbeque? Give these easy to make pickled deviled eggs a try!

Pickled deviled eggs in container

Need a quick appetizer or side dish? Grab a jar of pickled eggs and in minutes you can make deviled eggs. Be sure to read my “Easy Deviled Egg Directions with Tips and Secrets for Success” post if you need a refresher on making basic deviled eggs.

Starting with pickled eggs gives you a head start since the boiling, shell peeling, and cooling steps are all done. You also get a unique flavor with the pickled eggs.  I actually used smoked pickled eggs because that’s what I had on hand.

Jar of smoked pickled eggs

The basic mayonnaise and mustard deviled egg recipe compliments the pickled egg flavor. The downsides to using pickled eggs are they cost more and the egg yolks stick a bit more in the egg whites when spooning them out. Be sure to watch for a sale on pickled eggs or make your own for salads and appetizers.

Bowl of deviled egg mixture and baggie with cake decorating tip attached

To create a fancy look for my deviled eggs, I like to use a large cake decorating tip coupled to a baggie to fill my eggs. You can use a baggie or even a reusable icing bag. If you don’t have the cake decorating tip and coupler, you can cut one tip of the baggie and neatly fill your egg white shells.

Using baggie with cake decorator tip to fill deviled egg white shells.

Using pickled eggs makes deviled eggs even easier to make. Here’s to your next fun barbeque, picnic or family gathering where you enjoy these!

What easy to make finger foods do you like to make for picnics or barbecues?